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Warmer Weather Means Tick Season

PHOTO: Tick season is underway in Idaho, with veterinarians reporting that people are already finding them on their pets. Pictured is a brown dog tick, courtesy of CDC.
PHOTO: Tick season is underway in Idaho, with veterinarians reporting that people are already finding them on their pets. Pictured is a brown dog tick, courtesy of CDC.
April 12, 2013

BOISE, Idaho – Warmer weather means the creepy crawlies are coming to life, and while most are harmless, ticks shouldn't be ignored, because they can carry diseases that affect pets and people – such as Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

Ticks are often associated with hiking or camping, but they're also in backyards, according to Dr. Victoria Ochoa, a veterinary internal medicine specialist at WestVet in Boise.

She says whenever pet owners find ticks on their cats or dogs, think about this:

"What you see is probably the tip of the iceberg. There's probably a lot more tick exposure than what we see on our dogs."

Ochoa adds that not every tick bite results in illness. An infected tick has to feed on a pet, the pet's immune system has to be overwhelmed and in many cases, the illness doesn't show up for months or years.

Ochoa recommends preventatives to protect pets, and their owners, during tick season, which runs through September.

Gaylene Gabrinetti in Boise reports that six ticks have been found on her two black labs this week. She thinks they picked them up when they were playing by the Boise River.

"I found one on Bronco the other day,” she recalls. “I was petting him and felt something and thought, 'What is that?' And I looked at it and immediately, I thought, 'Oh, my God, I think that's a tick.'"

Ochoa also reminds pet owners, if they find a tick on a dog or cat, to also check themselves and their children.

"And I don't want to alarm people unnecessarily, but humans can get tick-borne illness,” she says. “Dogs can be kind of a canary in the coal mine, showing you that tick-borne illness does exist."

If you do find a tick, remove it right away – using tweezers, if possible – and then wash the area with warm water and soap.


Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - ID